Placement makes perfect

Os Gemeos in Milan. Photo by Os Gemeos.
Os Gemeos in Milan. Photo by Os Gemeos.

It’s no secret that good placement can make or break a piece or street art or a mural. That can mean picking the perfect place to install an artwork, or responding to the space that’s available and making something that takes that space into consideration. Think of it this way: Site-specific should mean the work is in some way specific to a site, not simply located at a site. And when art is site-specific, it can make a big difference. Recently, some artists practicing good placement have really caught my eye. Here are a few examples:

1. Os Gemeos in Milan (above): Wow. Milan is a lucky city right now, with a spectacular new mural by Os Gemeos, facilitated by Pirelli HangarBicocca. Responding to the shape of the site, Os Gemeos took a drab building and transformed it into a massive subway car. Os Gemeos’ murals are always a treat, but they knocked it out of the park with this one.

Invader in London. Photo by Butterfly.
Invader in London. Photo by Butterfly.

2. Invader in London: Simple, but effective, placing his mosaics around a CCTV camera. In some ways, quintessentially London.

Biancoshock in Milan. Photo by Biancoshock.
Biancoshock in Milan. Photo by Biancoshock.

3. Biancoshock in Milan: This series form Biancoshock seems to have really caught people’s attention on social media. I’ve been seeing these photos posted everywhere, so if you’re reading this, they probably aren’t new to you. But why are they so popular? Yes, I have a tiny apartment and can appreciate the joke too. But I think it’s more than that. Placement is an essential part of these pieces. If Biancoshock had made small rooms as sculpture for a gallery, or painted a tiny apartment on a wall, it wouldn’t have worked quite so well. It’s that he took a space and make work inspired by the location that simultaneously transformed the location.

Exercise Of Anamorphosis #2 by Elian. Photo by Elian.

4. Elian in Ostend with Exercise Of Anamorphosis #2: What happens when you get to a mural festival and you’re told that you aren’t painting a flat wall, but rather two walls of a building without a lot of flat surfaces? For some artists, this could trip them up. Or they could still treat the surface like they are applying wallpaper, and it would probably work out okay. But Elian went a step further, creating an optical illusion that messes with your perspective. He took something that could have been a weakness (an odd wall), and he made it a strength.

eL Seed in Cairo. Photo by eL Seed.
eL Seed in Cairo. Photo by eL Seed.

5. eL Seed in Cairo, for his Perception series: eL Seed painted this mural across dozens of buildings in Cairo, Egypt. It’s painted in a marginalized neighborhood in Cairo, where the residents are written off by the rest of the city as dirty because many of them are trash collectors. eL Seed’s text reads, “Anyone who wants to see the sunlight clearly needs to wipe his eye first.”

Photos by eL Seed, Butterfly, Biancoshock, Elian

Elian, a geometric captivator


Last week, Elian finished a piece titled Environmental Influences, situated in the outskirts of Cordoba.


Elian’s work captivates shapes, colors that contribute to building structures in a way that can definitely bring life back to the space and, as he put it, the environment. I appreciate the thoughtful  intent in all his works found in different places, even in abandoned country sides  (like this one).


The explanation to his interventions is cohesive and shows strong efforts to communicate with the already built structures that are then enhanced by transformative colors and shapes that play in just right.


Photos courtesy of Elian

Presenting Elian for PUENTE

Elian for PUENTE

Last month, I wrote about the emerging movement of street art events and projects in South America, the different social dynamics that create a variant dialogue towards street art and community involvement in activities that promote cultural development and accessible art for all. I now present you Elian‘s mural for PUENTE, a public art project organized by Kosovo Gallery in Córdoba, Argentina. Elian took the initiative of challenging ways of creating public space by using street art as a tool that changes urban environments. He says that PUENTE “seeks to reclaim city spaces that are out of condition through the street art, improving street lighting, keeping the space clean, fixing access for people with disabilities and other things related to the environment.” PUENTE will be an on going initiative that will bring many artists from Argentina and other parts of the globe to participate in creating safer places for everyone.







Photos courtesy of Elian

Elian gives insight to Córdoba’s street art culture


Last year, while I was working with Living Walls at Miami Art Basel I had the pleasure of talking to Elian about the politics of graffiti, art, and public space. I was intrigued by how he presented his world and relationship with street art in Córdoba, Argentina. I decided to pick up where we left off a few months ago… 

Laura: Let’s start with the basics, shall we? What influences and inspires your work?

Elian: My influences exist in everyday events, ordinary moments; one can grow from what’s reachable.

At Spanish Cultural Center in Córdoba

Laura: We spoke once about the difficulties of maintaining an art movement in a city like Córdoba, why do you think this phenomena occurs, what characteristics does Córdoba hold that puts it in this situation?

Elian: The characteristic that puts Córdoba in this situation is mainly due to cultural politics. Córdoba is a city that has always been traditional and conservative in terms of artistic expression, and like any second (or third) city in a country, state funding don’t necessarily go towards promoting subcultures or developing movements; the state’s budget goes towards cultural tourism and known entities like museums, cultural centers, historical districts, cultural patrimony, etc. But, I love being having the ability to break those parameters, it is not an easy task; on the upside, it gives room to do self-realized work without the dependency of any outside governmental entity, or any organization or business. And I prefer it that way.

At Spanish Cultural Center in Córdoba

Laura: What’s new in the street art movement in Córdoba?

Elian: Street art in Córdoba, like many cultural and artistic movements, is totally unpredictable… At times it grows and then suddenly it slows down. For now, artist that develop their skill in public space, or graffiti writers, or simply emerging artists and those who are self-taught, have been given more opportunities in spaces that traditionally were not available; for example art galleries, cultural centers, etc. On a personal note, I believe that the opening of Kosovo Gallery has pushed this phenomenon towards artists that have crossed the street in their line of work; the gallery has offered a space where more attention is brought to this form of expression.

Centro Cultural Espan¦âa Co¦ürdoba_Final
At Spanish Cultural Center in Córdoba

 Laura:  Tell us about your process, what do you look for in a wall? What do you see in a space before you tweak it up?

Elian: In regards to my work, physical structure is essential. Since I began to paint in the streets (approximately 10 years ago) my preferences have gone through many incredible transformations. Before, I preferred a space with a lot of visibility, a clean wall with a perfect surface. Currently I appreciate a lot more a wall that has been dishonored through the passing of time, crumbled by neglect in a neighborhood. Also, spaces that offer a variety of naturally occurring textures, walls made out of a particular material, molds and other architectural factors that generate movement with the geometry that I offer in my works. Selecting walls will always be attached to the richness of the work; today a wall in perfect condition does not say much to me.


Laura: What’s your preferred platform to execute your work in?

Elian: I feel that this is connected to the surroundings. Today, I want to work in a place that is missing something, a peripheral neighborhood. I want to be able to transform the mood in a plaza, to be able to affect a person’s day to day life in a positive way… Places where electoral (political) façade doesn’t necessarily reach, those communities that the state ignores.

Big Tools for Deep Cuts. Click to view large.

Laura: What’s your next move? What should we look forward to in your work?

Elian: As far as Elian goes… what you should expect is constant mutation, change. I think that what interests me the most about art is exactly that curiosity that is ignited; learning and searching towards a deeper theory and craft.

Photos courtesy of Elian

Elian and Pastel in Wynwood, Miami

Elian + Pastel in Wynwood. Photo courtesy of Pastel.

Argentinian artists Elian and Pastel collaborated on various pieces during this year’s Fountain Art Fair in Wynwood, Miami. Both artists exhibited works inside the fair, as part of a collaboration curated by Atlanta’s public art non-profit Living Walls.

The above collaboration utilizes use of fleeting, temporary mediums that captures Elian’s and Pastel’s playful and meaningful interaction with public art. Pastel uses chalk as his medium; creating organic relationships with weather and the passing of time, while Elian’s repetitive lines will remain and play with the empty space that evolved through the lapse of time.

Pastel and Elian at Fountain Art Fair. Photo courtesy of Pastel.

This collaboration was one of my favorites that I saw in Wynwood this year. Both pieces communicate with each other but also have the ability to stand on their own as separate works.

“Divorcio” by Elian. Photo courtesy of Elian.
“Cachaça” by Pastel. Photo courtesy of Elian.

Photos courtesy of Elian and Pastel

Weekend link-o-rama


Happy reminder that we’re less than a month from Christmas…

Photo by Hyuro

Elian in Córdoba, Argentina

Argentinian artist Elian created a mural using existing textures, histories and colors; while adding a hint of his own geometrical flair. It’s a smaller piece, but it catches the eye and chronicles the state of a wall once used for advertisements and recreation of political ideologies.

Elian was part of Peruvian street art festival Latir Latino in March.

Photo courtesy of Elian